Another Monday meander

Monday morning, I am up at an early hour after having a rather lazy Sunday, I have good intentions to get out and about for the day.

The day is set to be cold and bright, so set about looking at train and bus timetables.
Just twenty minutes later my train tickets paid for online, my destination is Plymouth, a chance for some street photography and another excuse to walk around the historic Barbican area of the city.

I am travelling with minimal gear today, just the 100F and a couple of batteries, no tripods, no filters, Plymouth always offers plenty of photographic opportunities.

Arriving at the train station, the sun casts some interesting shadows around the platform, the day is under way.

It takes about an hour from Exeter to Plymouth, passing through Newton Abbot and Totnes, it is a very pleasant journey passing through the countryside until reaching my destination.

As usual, I head towards Plymouth Hoe, with the intention of paying a visit to Smeatons tower, the predecessor to the Eddystone lighthouse, which was painstakingly dismantled from its location on the Eddystone rocks and reassembled on land in 1884.
My ideas of taking some high up shots of the Hoe from the tower are scuppered by the site of huge fences and scaffolding surrounding the tower,winter maintenance is under way it would appear.

From here, I walk just a short distance to one of the many small kiosks offering snacks and hot beverages, a cup of tea sat in the sunshine will do me nicely for a few minutes thank you.

Sun and shadow will be a theme in today’s proceedings, a day where opportunities present themselves willingly, a day where I will happily just meander to seek them out.

My time here in Plymouth is soon over but my day will continue back in Exeter, where the annual Christmas market is now under way.
The early part of the week will be a good opportunity to have a more relaxed wander around without the weekend crowds while I take a few more photos.

Shooting with the ‘F’

100f

I have had my ‘F’ for 12 months now, I have used it exclusively this year as my main camera for my personal photography, so I thought I would write something of a user experience review, with my take on this little gem.

On my photographic journey, I have come to realise that I prefer to shoot with prime lenses, a lot of my images were shot with either 35mm or 50mm lenses, even before I bought my first X100s a few years back, it is the ‘S’ that originated my dalliance with Fujifilm cameras.

My own story is like so many others, the ‘F’ was bought as a secondary camera, to take out on the days when I did not want to carry a bag with a heavy camera body and lenses, then slowly but surely, it was the ‘F’ that was being taken out exclusively.

This is a camera that you can trust to take some stellar images, the 35mm full frame equivalent focal length is so versatile, it is a camera that is a joy to use in so many ways.

Fujifilm are renowned for their colour science technology, I really like the colour rendering it produces, its out of cameras JPEGS are superb, if you prefer not to shoot RAW and post process, I will often shoot JPEG only and upload to a mobile device and post to social media, not something I thought I would ever do in the past.

As well as its portability, the ‘F’ is silent when shooting, a real asset for street photography, it’s leaf shutter offers nothing more than a whisper, so much smoother than the shutter slap of larger cameras that tell the world you have just taken a photo!

Like its older siblings, the ‘F’ has a built in 3 stop ND filter, ideal for shooting wide open on bright days, I have assigned this to the front custom button of my camera, for ease of use.

One of the the features of the X100 series that has always appealed, are the physical shutter speed and exposure compensation dials on the top plate, this is so much better than diving into menu systems in my opinion.

I am not keen on the integrated shutter speed, ISO dial, it is a little too fiddly for me, but the option to programme ISO control to the front command dial is available, this is what I use.

It is possible also, to assign custom control to the 3 of the four way control dials on the rear of the camera, which brings me to the one thing that I hope Fuji will change in the future.

The top ‘drive’ button is assigned to control the use of film or exposure bracketing and other custom shooting styles, I find this rather too easy to press inadvertently and find I am in panorama or video mode when I want to take a shot, as I use these features so little, if at all, perhaps this could go back to being a dedicated button on the other side of the camera as it used to be?

Of all the cameras I have bought and changed over the last few years, this one will be staying until it ceases to be, until it has shuffled off its mortal shutter, such is the enjoyment I get from using it….

 

One camera one lens, the last quarter

My one camera, one lens project is now approaching its final quarter, when it began in January, I had doubts that I would still be on course by autumn but I am as keen as ever to complete the full year.

During the last nine months, I have learned to be more creative with a single camera set up, rather than relying on a bag of kit that may or may not be used, by travelling light, I am happy to shoot for longer, a win, win scenario.

This project has also made me more open minded in my photography too, before this year, I would only ever shoot RAW images, (it’s the law isn’t it?) but I will happily shoot both Raw and Jpeg, or even just Jpeg’s on occasions!

For my occasional paid shoots, I will always shoot RAW, just for peace of mind but for my photo walks, I do not always want to spend too long at the PC editing, especially since the Fuji Jpeg engine is so good.

Yesterday was one such day, where I wanted to get out for a few hours before the next rainy spell arrived later in the day, so a trip to the seaside town of Teignmouth was decided upon, a spot of lunch and a few photos.

Earlier in the week, I had taken some photos using the square format aspect ratio and since I had enjoyed doing so, set the camera to do so again today.
It is not everyone’s cup of tea but I actually enjoy composing shots in the square format, I quite like the polaroid camera feel of the square format, it also makes you think a different way in terms of shot composition.

Just for the record, I set the camera to shoot Raw and Jpeg, but all the shots above were the Jpeg’s with very minor, if any post processing.

Teignmouth is one of my favourite local beaches to go for a brisk Sunday stroll, with plenty of photo opportunities.
A big thank you to the two very generous people who allowed me to take their photos while sat on the sea wall, I told them about my ‘shooting square’ theme and they were very happy to oblige.

I am looking forward to the next 3 months, watching the seasons change, while reluctantly accepting the shorter hours of daylight.

Going light

Since embarking upon my one focal length project this year, my faithful Fuji has been the perfect take anywhere camera, with no lenses to consider packing, my camera bag is considerably lighter than it ever has been, yet I still like to take a selection of filters and a tripod for my planned trips to Dartmoor and the coast, where I like to experiment with long exposures with the skies and water but I am beginning to wonder if I always need to carry the extra gear, just in case.

To elaborate further, I have found myself with just the camera and a spare battery when I am on errands in town, where I have really enjoyed having just the camera and no extras, minimalist photography.

A few shots from today’s foray into town, no contrasty shadows today with the overcast skies but I managed to find a few little gems.

 

 

Has this, maybe sown the seed for next years project, going light on all trips, just my chosen camera, no tripod and no extras, other than a spare battery or two?

If I am being honest, I am not sure I could do that for a whole year, I really enjoy all aspects of photography, the tripod and filters are part of what I enjoy about going on my outings, yet, it could be another steep learning curve

I am open to ideas on any future camera projects for next year, feel free to add any thoughts in the comments.

Dusk in the city

With the evenings slowly pulling in, it is a sure sign that autumn is just beyond the horizon, making more opportunities for some low light forays in the coming months.
This in mind, yesterday evening, I decided to get out for an evening outing to hone the skills ready for the coming seasons.

After being used to walking through the town in darkness for my early morning outings, it seemed weird to hear the cacophony of party goers on their way to their Saturday evening revelry, for once I have to share the city streets.

My initial plan is to head to the quayside, a favourite venue of mine during the day, hoping for some light trails across the bridges but decide this is a little formulaic and look to find other opportunities.

From the quay, I make way my back up to the city centre, taking a few shots on the way,
I am being very selective in my choice of shot, just looking for something other than the usual night time city shots.

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Tonight’s outing was very much a scouting mission, looking for ideas for night time compositions I may use at a later date, honing the skills for a more thorough shoot, during the longer hours of darkness.

The shots above are the pick of my 60 minute foray, all taken with my trusty X100F, all hand held with an aperture of f2-2.8, iso  adjusted as needed.

The two tor tour

During the course of the working week, I like to spend spend a little time making tentative arrangements for a camera walk for the following weekend but this week the pages on the notepad were still empty by the time Friday evening came.

Saturday morning dawned bright, with blue skies and a gentle breeze, it felt like a Dartmoor day, with the promise of sunshine for most of the day, the holiday crowds would be more likely to head for the beaches.

After a pit stop at a favourite cafe for a cooked breakfast and an intake of caffeine, Dartmoor is indeed the destination, initially to the Merrievale area, to seek out one of the many stone crosses on the moor but as we head to the car park, the well of ideas, so drought ridden during the week, is now a mains burst as 3 or four possible walks come to mind.

From the car park, the route is uphill all the way, over a stile and up the hill leading to Little Mis Tor, it is the various rock formations on the way up that are of interest in photographic terms. Large and small rock formations jutting out at various angles, giving some superb foreground interest in the view surrounding area.

Little Mis Tor can be seen in the photo above (just) the apparently small mound at the centre of the image, Great Mis Tor, the larger of the two is to the left.

Making steady progress to the tors, the views are just breathtaking, there are several very convenient rocks to sit on, to admire the scenery.

Dartmoor has this way of rewarding the walker for their efforts, today, mine was the majestic sight of the Dartmoor ponies congregating for their equine meeting at Little Mis Tor.

Finding a place to sit and admire the view, I take a well earned drink, while the horses get used to my presence, seemingly unperturbed, they carry on grazing as though I am not there, time for a few shots.

The tor on its own is photogenic enough but to have the native ponies to seemingly pose for me is priceless, as is one the foals, curious enough to come and make his acquaintance before having a sniff round my camera bag.

Twenty minutes and a heap of horse related photos later, I meander to great Mis Tor, where the summit has already be claimed by a couple of hikers, with pleasantries exchanged, we go our separate ways.


The descent back to the car park is much easier, a well used track leads to the main road but the views are simply not as good as those of the earlier climb, regardless of this, I think I have a new second favourite place on Dartmoor.

New tricks

When I was at school, I did reasonably well at the subjects I enjoyed, while playing the class clown in those I found a little less interesting, I respond better to real life examples than text book scenarios.

Trigonometry is the prime example, the text book always asked for the angles of a shadow when a ladder was against a wall, for me, this was the mathematical equivalent of pushing a disliked food item around a plate with a fork, then, computers made an appearance into schools and I quickly became a fan of programming during lunch time computer club and as I became better at the concept of programming, I wanted to do more.
I wanted to write my name in a circle, I found that I needed trig for this and the subject became easy, I had found a real example for maths required, I COULD do this!

It is this flaw in my mindset that prevents me from taking to new ideas straight away, but I get there eventually.

More relevant to my interest in photography, I had never really embraced mobile phone photography, I had a ‘proper’ camera, why would I need to use the mobile phone?
Again my own reluctance is key, I have only had a smartphone in the last couple of years, a phone was for texting and calling, a PC was for emails and my camera was for photography.
Slowly but surely, my inner dinosaur has evolved and I am at the deep end in the modern tech pool, enjoying my new education in social media and mobile apps.

It was watching a photography video that I was introduced to Hipstamatic, an IPhone app that produces vintage photo effects with a use of simulated lenses and ‘films’, I bought the app and a few add ons, I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun this could be, something different from my usual idea that all photos have to be pin sharp to be worthy of publishing.

With a number of different editing apps installed on my tablet, I am embracing the mobility this gives me, I do not always want to sit at a desktop editing images, the fact that any photo I take on my phone will be ready for editing in an instant is so handy. this dog, has learned some new tricks.